The Cleveland Indians will be heading into 2019 without one of their leaders who is expected to not return to the organization.
Last week, Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes reported that outfielder Michael Brantley was not expected to return and was drawing early interest from the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Chicago White Sox.
On Saturday, Plain Dealer sports writer Terry Pluto backed up what Hoynes reported with this tidbit in his column
There is nearly a zero chance Michael Brantley will return to the Tribe
Cleveland did not offer Brantley a one-year qualifying offer worth $17.9 million but team president Chris Antonetti did say that the team wanted Michael Brantley back but everyone knows that the team is reportedly looking to trim it’s franchise record payroll, making things difficult to bring him back.
Brantley has been with the Indians organization since 2008 when he was the “player to be named later” from the Milwaukee Brewers in the CC Sabathia trade.
He made his major league debut in 2009 and has been a big part of the team, whether it’s been part of the rebuilding phase from 2009 to 2012 or the team’s revival and success from 2013 till now.
In 1,051 career games with Cleveland, Michael Brantley has done the following:
- .295 batting average (25th in franchise history)
- 1,195 hits (18th in franchise history)
- 543 runs (30th in franchise history)
- 248 doubles (11th in franchise history)
- 87 home runs (36th in franchise history)
- 528 runs batted in (24th in franchise history)
- 118 stolen bases (21st in franchise history)
- 3-time All-Star (2014, 2017-18)
- 2014 Silver Sluuger
- 3rd in MVP voting
He did all that despite nagging injuries that did halt the rising star that he was becoming after his 2014 season. In 2016, he was limited to just 11 games because of a shoulder injury that required two surgeries in a calendar year.
In 2017, an ankle injury limited him to just 90 games but he made the effort to make his first postseason appearance against the Yankees but playing through the injury didn’t help as he went 1 for 12 at the plate in the ALDS.
He was healthy throughout the 2018 season playing in 143 games, hitting .309 with 17 home runs and 76 runs batted in and proving he’s still one of the best hitters in the game.
It’s obvious he has a market in free agency with some expecting him to get around $14-15 million per season on a multi-year contract.
Going to Atlanta who has a young squad and tasted the postseason would be an interesting fit because it’s unclear where he would play as they have National League Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna in left field and Nick Markakis in right field.
Philadelphia would likely push for Brantley if the team fails to sign Bryce Harper, who they’re considered the favorites currently to land the superstar. They have Rhys Hoskins in left field but reports say they want to move him to first base as they’re shopping former Indians first baseman Carlos Santana.
Regardless of where Brantley ends up, the 31-year-old will always be remembered as a Cleveland Indian and one day will end up honored in the Cleveland Indians Hall Of Fame for what he did for the organization during his decade long tenure with the ball club.